Artists make film and book about Chinese copy towns


Two artists from London, Phil Thompson and Sebastian Acker, are currently in the process of making a film and a book about the current phenomenon of Chinese construction companies building entire replicas of Western towns. Some towns are complete replicas, whereas others pick and choose landmarks in order to create a fictional landscape. The production of these towns has been met with a mixed reaction from residents of the original places and the world’s press.

Over November and December 2012 they visited China and documented several sites associated with copying. These included Thames Town (a replica of an English town), the Dafen Oil Painting Village (where masterpieces are copied on a mass scale), several miniature model worlds, and Halstatt See (a replica of the beautiful Austrian UNESCO town of Hallstatt). Having filmed three Eiffel Towers, two Tower Bridges, the Manhattan skyline twice and many other fake architectural versions the artists are now visiting the ‘original’ sites.

Both Acker and Thompson recently graduated from the Masters course at the Slade School of Fine Art, where they impressed their tutors with their plans to investigate the phenomena of copy towns within China. The pair were awarded the Duveen Travel Scholarship, a monetary prize reserved for artists who want to travel in order to make a body of work.

They are currently presenting their on-going research on Tumblr